1990-91 was the breakthrough season for the 2nd year Sonics power forward Shawn Kemp.
One of the League’s emerging young stars got playing time many think he deserved and amazed the crowds across the United States with his an unbelievable array of in-game dunks.
Eager to prove what he could do with the ball in his hands, Kemp gained confidence from the new Sonics head coach K.C. Jones, and became the starter only 16 games into the season, just 11 days after his 21st birthday.
Kemp also got a huge publicity boost for his shining performance at 1991 NBA All-Star slam dunk contest in which he finished as a runner-up to the new slam dunk king, Celtics’ Dee Brown.
Just a week later, on February 16th, 1991, Supersonics visited Atlanta on their Eastern Conference trip. Hawks won this one easily by 122-113 led by the phenomenal performance of their leading star, superstar forward Dominique Wilkins, who scored 36 points, along with 10 boards and 5 dimes.
But the talk of the evening in Atlanta wasn’t Wilkins – it was the performance of the Sonics rising star – Shawn Kemp.
Visiting ‘Nique’s house’, The Omni in Atlanta, and playing in front of the crowd which knew well how to evaluate and appreciate each spectacular dunk, made Kemp eager to give out the best he had at the moment.
Although he knew that the Hawks rim is protected by mighty frontline which combined for the six blocked shots in the contest, Kemp attacked the rim fearlessly for a number of powerful two-hand jams and a spectacular tomahawk dunk in the lane, in front of the legendary Moses Malone.
Kemp finished the game with 21 points, to go along with 8 boards, 4 dimes, and 2 steals.
During 1990-91 campaign Kemp played 81 games for the squad which made it to 1991 postseason, starting 66 of those, while averaging 15.0 points, 8.4 boards, 1.8 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor. The 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist is also proud to be the author of the TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic.
He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.